Static Servers/Dynamic Pages

1 minute read

Any developer who has worked the web knows that different browsers render content differently. I remember back in the day working to make sure that things rendered with pretty pictures in Netscape, degraded nicely in Mosaic, and worked flawlessly in Lynx (Netscape 1 was released while I was in college and I remember taking a course on using and developing for the internet and showing the Professor this wonderful new tool called the web…but that’s a story for a different time).

In any event, I wanted to display some content that is platform or browser specific, not in the sense that some browsers support x subset of some standard while others support y subset of the same standard, but in the sense that I only want display a “Get Firefox” button when the page is not viewed using Firefox.

This journal loads the code to handle this need, it’s just that it requires 230 lines of code and three extra file loads (I have all my javascript code that I used loaded from separate files instead of imbedded in the pages to be a good network citizen). Most of the code is the browser detection code, which I simply lifted wholesale without modification from the Mozilla Foundation. They don’t recommend using it of course; there are far better ways to test for working plug-ins or javascript capabilities. The other two files a couple of functions that abstract the process of creating a link with a random image and the code that contains a list of images, one of which is picked at random, to display.

Here is the code I wrote:

function randomElementFromArray(theArray) {
        return theArray[Math.round(Math.random() * theArray.length - 1)];

function anchorWithRandomImage(anchor, images, altText) {
        return ('<a href="' + anchor + '"><img alt="' + altText + '" title="' + 
altText + '" src="' + randomElementFromArray(images) + '" /></a>');

function getFirefox() {
        var buttons = new Array(5);
        buttons[0] = "";
        buttons[1] = "";
        buttons[2] = "";
        buttons[3] = "";
        buttons[4] = "";
        if (!isIE3Mac && ( || is.opera)) {
                document.writeln(anchorWithRandomImage('', buttons, 'Get Firefox!'));

I’m pretty heavy into abstraction, so it could be combined into one function, but there it is. The code to create the “is” object used for browser detection was boosted from the Mozilla sniffer code.